Capturing the challenge of supporting Sheffield communities during lockdown

Voluntary Action Sheffield are putting out a call for the city’s voluntary and community sector to send in their stories about the challenges and achievements of supporting our communities over the Covid 19 pandemic.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 6:00 am
Annalisa Toccara.

Over the last 12 months, the sector has played a vital role in the city’s response to the pandemic, with groups and organisations providing a range of support services whilst at the same time having to change their own ways of working.

Recent research by Sheffield Hallam University highlights the contribution of the sector during the pandemic, both in responding to the challenges faced by different communities, and developing innovative new responses to address the unprecedented situation that the city faced.

The aim is now to capture and celebrate stories of the sector’s resilience. One such story involves the work of Darnell Well Being, a not-for-profit community health organisation, which provides a range of health-related services for people in Darnall, Tinsley and neighbouring areas.

Darnall Well Being packs.

For many years Darnell Wellbeing has run a Craft Group, offering people the opportunity to learn new skills, but also providing an important social element, with group members coming together on a weekly basis to have a laugh and a chat.

The Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown meant that the group could no longer meet. Shide, one of the volunteers with Darnell Well Being, picks up the story.“We knew that the members were really missing being together and we wanted to do something to keep our connection going. Our first thought was to have online meetings, but the group didn’t feel comfortable with this, so instead we put together a doorstep drop of craft packs, each containing the types of activities that we knew that person enjoys.”

The appreciation from the group members has been really heartfelt. One of the recipients of the craft packs responded by saying, “I would like to say a very big thank you. I am so touched by your kindness and they way you have kept in touch with me over these challenging months. Love to you all and stay safe. xxx”

Stories such as this have been repeated hundreds of times across the city. Now VAS, the infrastructure organisation for the city’s voluntary and community sector, are asking local organisations to submit their stories so that there is a record of the many ways, both large and small, that Sheffield’s voluntary and community organisations rose to the challenge of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Craft pack delivered.

Annalisa Toccara, Communications Manager at VA, from VAS is co-ordinating the Covid 19 Stories project.

“The impact of the pandemic over the last 12 months has transformed how we live, work, and volunteer in so many ways.

In the voluntary and community sector we have had to deal with a massive increase in demand for our services whilst, at the same time, we have had to change the way we work, doing some things differently and building new partnerships and new services to respond to this unprecedented situation.

“We want to make sure that this work is recorded and celebrated, so whether you are an established charity, an informal support group or are involved in community volunteering, we want you to share your stories about how you've managed, what you've learned, and how you've kept yourself inspired and motivated.

“You can submit your stories by going to our website

“As well as posting these stories on the site, we will also feature these stories on our social media channels, and in the Voluntary Action Sheffield Newsletter, and later this year, a selection of these stories will be featured in the VAS ‘Make A Difference’ Awards.”The closing date for submission of stories is 11th June 2021.